Book Review: Sweep of the Blade

Book cover: Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews

Sweep of the Blade, book #4 of the Innkeeper Chronicles, takes a break from Dina’s quirky Gertrude Hunt and follows her sister, Maud, through a brief glimpse of her troubled history of, shall we say… questionable life choices that left her in exile and as a single mother to a five-year-old half-vampire, half-human girl with a penchant for stabbing.

Her deceased husband, a vampire knight of a wannabe powerful house, left her without support from her former vampire family or any financial recourse on a desolate planet few people escape—an experience which left her with an understandable distaste for vampire society.

And so, for some reason, Maud decides to follow Arland back to his planet, home to the ancient and powerful House Krahr, with a wedding invitation to essentially repeat history. Arland is nothing like her loser ex-husband, but his favor and high standing can’t stop the tide of racial prejudice exacerbated by—wait for it…

A poor life choice.

[begin rant] What choice is that, you ask? Arland has asked her to marry him (no spoilers, it comes out pretty early in the book). Maud has a pretty clear choice: go against the experience that darn near ruined your life and accept, or find someone else from the trillions of males who occupy the known universe. Maud, of course, chooses option C and goes with him with the promise that "she'll think about it," putting herself on a hostile alien planet, where she and her daughter are in arguably more danger than the planet they came from, she places Arland’s reputation in jeopardy (he doesn’t care, as any honorable knight wouldn’t, but you’d think she would), and spends most of the book trying not to die while she makes up her mind about something she probably should have figured out before she left. [end rant]

Okay, that was harsh. Maud needed a ticket off that rock, and Arland was by far her best choice. She has understandable emotional scars, etc, but even with all the facts of her turbid life, it still made me shake my fist at the pages and want to scream, “Just freakin’ commit, already!”

That said, it was an enjoyable ride. Ilona Andrews does a wonderful job of painting an alien world and rich civilization, as always, making it easy to forget the decisions that led there. The book delves deep into vampire customs, the quirks of House Krahr, and how thoroughly and easily Arland is whipped falls in love. Fans of the series, of which I’m one, won’t want to miss this slice of the Innkeeper Chronicles universe.